When you think of industrial conversions, concrete and steel beams usually spring to mind. But this 19th century loft inside the MacIntyre Building in New York’s Flatiron district offers a softer take on loft living.

On the market for $2.2 m, the one-bedroom apartment features over-sized 19th-century sash windows – fully restored to frame views of nearby Union Square and the Downtown skyline – and soaring 12 ft ceilings.

Alcoves and period plaster-mouldings are reminders of the building’s history.

Constructed in 1892 for chemist Ewen McIntyre, the 12-storey building on 18th Street and Broadway isn’t the area’s most famous Victorian building, but it’s one of its most storied.

Predominantly neo-Romanesque in style, the MacIntyre Building has been described by the AIA Guide to New York City as ‘unspeakable eclectic… the designer used the whole arsenal of history in one shot’.

They weren’t kidding.

874_Broadway_MacIntyre_Building_top_from_south
Photography: Beyond My Ken

Architect Robert H Robertson combined yellow brick, terracotta and carved stone in its grand design, which is a ‘murmuration of Byzantine columns, Romanesque arches, Gothic finials and crockets’, says the AIA Guide. He crowned its 11th and 12th floors with a Gothic-inspired tower complete with fleur-de-lis and lions’ head flourishes.

Despite having a mural of his moniker laid in the lobby – with an unfortunate extra ‘a’ – McIntyre never occupied his namesake, but over the decades it accommodated a telephone exchange, textile and china wholesalers, as well as a bank on its ground floor.

Its switch to residential came later when a co-op of artists, photographers and architects bought the building in late 1960s and began moving in – at first illegally and then officially by the 1980s.

And in the 1970s an illicit nightclub called Cobra opened on its seventh floor. Cobra was named after the snake-filled vivarium that sat in its entrance. Rumour has it they’d regularly escape, popping up in the building long after the club was shut down.

Thankfully, they’re all gone now, but the building’s playful past is one of its selling points.

But if this apartment is a little on the small side, why not super-size it?

Sotheby’s are offering the chance to create a 4-bed, 3.5-bath duplex by combining it with the unit above, which is also (separately) for sale. The price-tag? $5.49m.

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